by Ken Rolheiser
St Joseph’s Door and the Gate to Heaven

St Teresa of Avila recounts a conversation she had with Jesus one day after communion. Jesus asked her to build the Convent of St Joseph. "He wanted it to be dedicated to Saint Joseph who would guard one of its doors, Our Lady the other, and Jesus himself would stand in the middle. This monastery would be a star that would shine brightly," St Teresa wrote.

This convent gives us a wonderful metaphor for a spiritual house we can inhabit in our meditations. Imagine Saint Joseph guarding one of the doors; Jesus himself stands beside us in the middle of our house, and Mary is at the door that opens into heaven.

Our spiritual house is built on rock, “…like a man building a house, who… laid his foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the torrent crashed against that house but could not shake it, because it was well built” (Luke 6:48).

The front door or street door is entrusted to Joseph. It allows us to leave a secular world, a mixed-up, hostile and dangerous world and find peace in our little home of heaven. I am reminded of St Andre of Quebec who was porter at Notre Dame College for forty years and later at St Joseph’s Oratory which he built. St Joseph was ever by his side.

St Andre was patron of those looking for work. His faith and trust were always in St Joseph who performed many healings through this humble servant. Like St Joseph, we need to follow our angels and their promptings. Angels guard and guide us.

And in our house Jesus is always beside us. We just need to stay close: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

Jesus is closer than beside us: “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). And Jesus has given us Mary to be our Mother. From  the cross he said to John and to us, “This is your Mother…this is your son” (John 19:26).

In prayer and meditation we can put ourselves beside Jesus in our little personal house. When we have sinned we can put our heads on the shoulder of Jesus and feel his arm around us. Draw near to Christ. Christ has drawn near to you.

Let St Joseph be the porter of our personal house. Like St Andre he will be a constant presence and power to separate us from the world and temptation. Like St Andre of Quebec, Joseph is real to us.

I have stood in St Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal and I have seen the crutches piled up there. Wikipedia reports: “When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died.

“The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy… doctors called him a quack. ‘I do not cure,’ he said. ‘Saint Joseph cures.’ In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.”

In looking for a model for our lives, “St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.” Blessed Josemaria Escriva

(584 words)